The First Unofficially Official
Mascot of the Marine Corps

Jiggs, virtually a symbol of the Marine Corps in his own right, was whelped in Philadelphia on the 22nd of May, 1922. The little pup was a regular blue-blood. Sired by the famous English Bulldog "Rob Roy", Jiggs' formal title was, in fact, "King Bulwark", which might have made him, upon enlistment, the only Marine ever to outrank the Commandant. However, when "King Bulwark" entered the Marine Corps on the 14th of October, 1922, Brigadier General Smedley Butler, who signed the enlistment papers, very sensibly demoted the King to private, thereby turning the aristocratic canine into a regular egalitarian, not to mention preserving the Chain of Command. Ever afterwards, the royal bulldog was known only as "Jiggs".

Doubtless due to his lineage~ or, as we would say, his connections~ promotion for Jiggs was rapid. Within two and a half weeks he was wearing corporal's chevrons and by New Year's Day 1924 had become a sergeant. By the following July he had been promoted to Sergeant Major.

(Photo to left: Sergeant Major Jiggs with General Smedley Butler, courtesy of D.A. Red Millis II, GySgt USMC Retired; Curator, Marine Corps Legacy Museum.

Sergeant Major Jiggs set for a little scrimmage

Sergeant Major Jiggs
as an Old Campaigner

U.S. Marine Corps photograph

It is of course common knowledge that the English aristocracy has always been dissolute, and in this regard Jiggs was, alas, no exception. Repeatedly courtmartialed for breaches of etiquette and deportment, Jiggs (always soon reinstated) led a pampered and overfed existence in the glow of publicity and stardom, at one point sharing the cinematic limelight with Lon Chaney in the 1926 production, "Tell It To the Marines".

SgtMaj Jiggs after
a Hard Day in the Limelight

Perhaps due to gastronomic immoderation, the pressures of stardom, or the keeping of late hours on the town, Jiggs died before his time on January 9th, 1927, some four months short of his fifth birthday. Lying in state in a satin-lined coffin in a hanger at Quantico, surrounded by banks of flowers and flanked by two Marine guards, Jiggs' passing was mourned throughout the Corps.

Information derived primarily from the monograph BRIEF REFERENCE ~ MASCOTS IN THE MARINE CORPS, by Nicky McLain, Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., 1964. Thanks to GySgt D.A. Red Millis II, USMC Ret., Curator, Marine Corps Legacy Museum.

See also
The Fountain
at Belleau

for more on
the origins of
the bulldog as
Marine Corps

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